An artist's impression of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

Sefton Council is aiming to borrow £20million towards the development of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport. 

The local authority’s Cabinet will meet next week to approve the proposal as well as the submission of a Full Business Case to Central Government, following the award of the £38.5m Southport Town Deal.

Cabinet will also be asked to approve plans to procure both a Design & Build contractor and an Operating Partner for the proposed venue, which will be built on the site of the former Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which has been closed since March 2020. 

Excitement for the Marine Lake Events Centre & Water and Light Show project has been building rapidly in recent months, and a detailed planning application for its creation has already been submitted.

Both the Planning submission and Business Case proposal follow a detailed public consultation process held by the council, which showed that 84% of residents and businesses in the resort are in favour of the Marine Lake Events Centre (MLEC) being created.

Should the business case and planning permission be approved, The MLEC is estimated to bring more than half a million visitors to Southport year on year, while generating an annual £18 million for the local economy.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: 

“The submission of a full business case and the appointment of contractors and operators are the natural next steps in this fantastic one in a generational project.

“We are wholly committed to the delivery of this incredible scheme which will be of massive importance to the economy across the borough.”

An artist's impression of the new Water and Light Show on Marine Lake in Southport

An artist’s impression of the new Water and Light Show on Marine Lake in Southport

Detailed in the report includes a transparent financial analysis of what the local authority’s predicted annual cost of borrowing for the project could be, less the annual income received from the venue’s future operating partner. 

A more detailed financial forecast is currently being drafted and will be presented to the September meeting of Sefton Council’s Cabinet.

Cllr Atkinson said: 

“We know that the public recognises the council’s ambitions to boost Southport’s cultural offer and visitor economy, as well as ultimately support local businesses and increase spend.

“This report reaffirms the Cabinet’s steadfast commitment to the MLEC project by borrowing up to £20m to make it happen. 

“I am immensely proud of what we have been able to deliver in terms of regeneration projects for our communities and businesses across Sefton, especially following the impact of the pandemic.

“Should it be approved, the new development will provide first class theatre space, a conference and exhibition centre able to accommodate a wide range of events, and café and signature restaurant, providing facilities for both visitors and the local community alike.

“The plans also include a new Water and Light show installation on the Marine Lake, the largest permanent installation of its kind in the UK.

“Our plans for the Marine Lake Events Centre and Water & Light Show directly complement the ongoing and continued investment Sefton Council makes toward improving the future of the town for our amazing communities and visitors.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: 

“Southport holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in our city region and beyond as being a family-favourite destination for days out and holidays alike. The town has been entertaining generations of visitors for as long as it has existed.

“We want to build on that legacy and make sure that Southport can continue to thrive and attract visitors for many more years to come, giving a massive boost to local businesses and creating good quality, secure jobs. We are working with Sefton Council to drive the town’s revival and start a new chapter in its story. I for one cannot wait to see what the future has in store.” 

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